Hellenismos, otherwise known as Greek Reconstructionist Paganism, is the traditional, polytheistic religion of ancient Greece, reconstructed in and adapted to the modern world. It's a vibrant religion which can draw on a surprising amount of ancient sources. Baring the Aegis blogger Elani Temperance blogs about her experiences within this Tradition.
Constellation Crater: the cup
A little over a week ago, I introduced part one of this new series-within-a-series. Like Andromeda and her family, crater belongs to a group of constellations linked together by a single myth. The first part of this series, on the constellation Corvus, introduced the basics of the myth:
"Corvus represents a raven or crow in service to Apollon, who was sent out on an errant for the Theos. He was asked to bring water to Him, but instead, he paused in his quest, most commonly assumed is that he stopped for a meal of figs. When the raven returned without water, Apollon questioned him. Instead of giving a straight answer, the raven lied, and said he had been kept from the water by a snake. In some accounts, he actually had a snake in his talons as he said this. Apollon, however, saw that the raven was lying, and flung the raven, the krater with which the raven was supposed to collect water, as well as the snake into the sky, where they remain to this day. To punish the bird further, Apollon made sure the krater would forever be just out of reach of the bird."
The Hellenic spelling of the word 'crater' is with a 'k'--'krater' (κρατήρ). All 'kraters' are mixing bowls. The name comes from the word 'kerannmi': 'to mix'. The krater is named after the shape of the handles. There are four types, the 'volute', the 'calyx', the 'column', and the 'bell' krater. The handles of the volute are in the form of a spiral with flanged sides rising from loops on the shoulder to above to the rim. A calyx krater differs from the basic krater shape, but not in its purpose. It has a deep body, with the lower part convex, and the upper part slightly concave. It rests on a heavy stand and has handles which are set at the top of the lower part, which curve upward. It's the only basic krater shape where the handles don't reach, or top, the rim. The column krater has a round body, a offset neck with a thick lip and a heavy stand. Each handle consists of a pair of cylindrical stems ending in a horizontal block joined to the rim. In short, the handles look like the tops of the columns holding up ancient Hellenic temples. Bell kraters, obviously, have a bell shaped body. They have loop handles placed high on the body, which curve slightly upward. The krater rests on a heavy stand. Which type of krater was used in the myth is unclear.
I promised last week to go deeper into the myth. The original version of it is as follows, in the words of Roman author Gaius Julius Hyginus (64 BC - 17 AD) (Astronomica 2, 2.40):
There is, however, another myth linked tot he constellation, also given to us by Hyginus:
The third interpretation of the constellation comes from a link to the constellation Centaurus. It centers around Phôlos, a civilized kéntauros who aided Hēraklēs when the smell of the wine from Phôlos' own wineskin drove them into a frenzy. Phôlos had only meant to be a good host, but ended up giving Hēraklēs one of the biggest fights of his life. Phôlos died in the struggle, as he accidentally dropped a poisoned arrow into his foot. The Theoi took mercy on Phôlos and took the cup he had meant to serve Hēraklēs his wine in, and placed it into the sky as a reminder of Phôlos' good character and generosity.
There are some smaller, more local, myths connected to the constellation, but these are the most well know. Whatever its origin, the constellation Crater is visible at latitudes between +65° and −90°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of April.
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